This wasn’t what I wanted. Kore yanked up a handful of weeds, grabbing a sprig of withy in the process.
“Good riddance” she growed under her breath. Goddess of springtime my ass…. My ass that will not be going anywhere with anyone interested in doing interesting things any time soon. She pushed damp strands of hair out of her eyes, leaving a muddy trail across her forehead, then angrily wiping the hand on her ankle-length dress. But no matter how much she weeded, planted, ran, or tumbled through the grass, the pure white peplos refused to stain. Not even my Artemis-blessed menstruation will stain this thing. Kore pulled at the fabric in disgust– Demeter’s design to mark off her perfectly pure daughter, setting Kore aparted as a chaste virgin to usher in the dainty flowers of spring after the bitter cold of winter. Sure, she could wear a colorful epiblema over the gown– what plant goddess didn’t delight in rich, natural dyes? But underneath, it would always be a white, a color Kore was finding particularly itchy these days.
Sixteen. She was sixteen years old, two years past the age of most brides, and she considered the world laid out before her: a marriage arranged by Zeus or a life of maidenhood like Artemis and Hestia. Neither seemed particularly compelling. And why then, if her mother refused to let her meet someone and get married, why did she have to wear a woman’s length peplos? Couldn’t she stay in the children’s shorter tunics, which made it easier to garden and plant and paint?
“Hermes!” Kore called into the open air and tossed up a feather for good measure. She watched it fall towards the earth, only to be snapped up by a sprightly boy, lean and swift with wings on his heels.
“You rang, oh flower of maidenhood?” Kore frowned. Hermes frowned in response. “Is that not good? Oh jeweled dove of spring?” he ventured with a flourishing bow. Kore grinned.
“You need to stop with those things altogether. Someone may think you’re serious.”
“Of course I am serious, dewdrop of my mind. How can I serve you today?”
“I’m…board? Maybe? Frustrated? I’m not sure.” Kore frowned and yanked another stubborn withy sprig. Why Demeter felt the need to plant withy around all the flower gardens…
“Aren’t you amply occupied tending the tender buds of spring?” Hermes drifted lower, eyeing the purple blooms of the so-called chaste trees that so chafed Kore. She heaved a sigh, seeing his look.
“Of course not. I pull weeds. I paint flowers. It’s not exactly taxing. And it leaves my mind free to wander…”
“Oh to wander and to wonder, my wonderous one? Of what do you wonder? Where shall we wander today?” Hermes pulled a polished bronze circle from his messenger bag and held it aloft. “Who shall we spy on?” Kore grinned again and led the way to shady patch, thinking hard over her Olympian aunts and uncles. Hermes tailed behind, rattling off ideas. “Aphrodite is dating again, but your mama wouldn’t like that. Ares is in the midst of rage and war, and you don’t like all that blood and gore. Poisidon’s got a new mer-daughter– adorable if you like fins. Athena’s been building again, sparking dreams for one of her mortals…”
“That please!” Kore settled in the shade of the tree and twirled her fingers, causing daisies and foxglove to rise up from the ground. She absent-mindedly began weaving them into garlands, Hermes reaching for blooms of his own as he settled in, the bronze mirror hovering in front of them. In the image, Athena stood, silver hair tied back in a tidy braid and wearing a neat golden apron over a tailored suit. She was talking as she hammered and sanded, putting together a new loom.
“And you see this cut creates a joining, a way to connect the pieces without needing nails! While Hephestus always supplies divine hardware, I do so like when we can do this ourselves. This is a clever approach to woodworking which allows one autonomy from metal-workers and blacksmiths! Now I’m sanding the wood to get a nice, even surface….”
The sound droned on, and Kore focused on the steps, pulling them into her memory. Maybe she could convince a vine to grow in a similar shape, creating a frame without needing to cut and sand the wood at all. Willow was pliable, ready to form into new shapes, and it was soft wood, kind to human hands….
Hermes, noting the look on Kore’s face, pulled out a sketchbook and charcoal, handing them over and taking the flower garland for himself. A plant goddess interested in learning, interested in arts and crafts, Kore looked up to Athena, and Demeter approved of the conservative goddess. Hermes felt it always prudent to stick to content Demeter would approve, which meant they often watched Athena craft or Hestia bake on the polished screen. He sighed a bit for his friend, so clever and so cloistered, but shrugged. Here on Earth, Demeter welded more power than most gods, drawing her strength from the ground and that which grew on it. Best to cater to Demeter’s wills, for now. He dozed off, lulled by Athena’s dulcet tones.
With Hermes slumbered beside her, Kore shifted the bronze disc just so, angling so he couldn’t quite see from his position on the ground. She tapped it a few times, thinking of the other gods and who might be doing something more interesting than staining wood. Hestia was hosting a baking tutorial on her channel, providing help to dozens of human bakers all lined up at workstations in a giant kitchen. A grumbling Hephestus stumped along to help her critique. On another channel, Artemis and Apollo competed at archery, with commentary from a sprite. The Olympics in Athens, war coverage from Sparta… Kore glanced down as Hermes began to snore. She dialed the disc one more time.
The disc zoomed in on a dark room, a low-burning fire the only light. In the firelight, a figure sat in an austere, wing-backed chair. He looked up as the image in the disc settled.
“Hello little goddess, It’s been a few weeks.”